Old-School/New-School: Toyota Uses Twitter, Incentives To Lure Customers Back

March 3, 2010
The 2010 Toyota Prius

The 2010 Toyota Prius

Screencap of the Toyota Channel at Tweetmeme

Screencap of the Toyota Channel at Tweetmeme

In the early days of the Toyota recall fiasco, car buyers seemed to ignore the bad news. But as Cleopatra once said, denial only goes so far, and Toyota's troubles are finally having a negative impact on sales. To its credit, though, Toyota isn't taking this lying down: the automaker has turned to the social media platform Twitter to help buff its brand, and it's also rolling out some tasty incentives to sweeten the deal.

Those of you who use Twitter know that it can be both fun and frustrating, a complete time-suck and the Dullest Show on Earth. Twitter can also be thoroughly overwhelming, but Tweetmeme is a great service that attempts to make sense of Twitter's 50,000,000 million daily messages. For example, the website hosts channels dedicated to specific companies, topics, and events -- like the Chilean earthquake -- which aggregate all the news being tweeted about those particular issues.

Toyota now has a channel on Tweetmeme called Toyota Conversations, which lists recent tweets about Toyota, as well as a sidebar featuring official posts from Toyota itself and other information about the recalls. But just because you tweet out #Toyota, don't expect your message to show up there: Tweetmeme allows channel operators to pick and choose the sources of their tweets, so if there's a news source that's particularly hostile, it can be left out. That said, the stream we're seeing right now on Toyota Conversations seem to be fairly mixed, so maybe it hasn't been as cherry-picked as we'd think.

But while this is a great PR move, and while we're impressed to see Toyota making social media a pillar of its info campaign, Tweetmeme probably isn't on the average person's radar. Sure, that Toyota channel is great for journos looking for stories about Toyota, but to draw in everyday consumers, Toyota has to use other tactics.

Say, for example, incentives.

As if on cue, Toyota is now offering several attractive deals to lure folks back to its showrooms. For starters, the company is providing 60 months of 0% APR financing to qualified buyers of the 2010 Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Tundra, and Yaris. The lease-minded aren't left out, with low lease rates offered on most of those same models (minus the Yaris, but including the 2010 Toyota Venza). Better still, if you already own a Toyota, Lexus, or Scion, you'll receive a complimentary two-year premium maintenance package

All three of those incentives -- the low APR financing, low lease rate, and complimentary maintenance upgrade -- are available on vehicles purchased between now and April 5, 2010. If that's piqued your interest, be sure to check Toyota's full press release below.

* * * * *

Toyota Announces March Sales Event

TORRANCE, Calif., March 2, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. today announced plans to launch the company’s most far-reaching sales program in its history. 

Starting today, through April 5, 2010, the national marketing program includes financing, leasing and customer loyalty offers.  Highlights of the program include:

• 0% APR financing for up to 60 months on 2010 Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Tundra and Yaris, for qualifying buyers.

• Low lease rates on 2010 Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, Prius, RAV4, Tundra and Venza, for qualifying buyers.  Examples include a Corolla lease for $179 a month and a Camry lease for $199 a month, although offers may vary regionally.

• Complimentary two-year premium maintenance program for customers who purchase or lease a new vehicle and provide proof of a Toyota, Lexus or Scion vehicle already registered in household, with applicable conditions.

“We launched this program to expand the focus on our customers, and thank them for their loyalty by adding value to our products,” said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. “We are standing behind our customers and our vehicles.  It’s a great time to buy a Toyota.”

The marketing program will be supported by a television ad campaign from Toyota’s advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and Conill LA.

The March Sales Event television ads will begin airing on March 2, and will highlight the special 0% financing for 60 months offer.  In addition, the ads will feature discussions with customers who recently purchased Toyota vehicles and reflect their feedback.  Other commercials feature Toyota dealership associates, including salespeople, customer service representatives, technicians and others, thanking customers for their support and loyalty to Toyota.

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[Techcrunch, Toyota]

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